The more observant amongst you will have noticed that there was no blog yesterday. This was because I was working in Lytham all day and forgot to mention it on Thursday. Still, not much happened apart from a brief respite from the unrelenting wet of the past few weeks. It's always the way, when I have to spend time in an office the weather decides to take a turn for the better. The drive over to the coast was pleasant enough though and the job went well.
It's back to normal here this morning with a heavy mizzle making everything wet again and a forecast that promises a river in spate by the early next week. The reports I'm getting suggest that river fishing is proving rewarding on all beats with plenty of large wild fish in evidence. I had a long chat with Neil Handy the Fisheries Officer on Thursday and he tells me that there are good numbers of spring run salmon in the river below the Foss and significant sightings of sea trout lower down on the Ribble. With the way the river has been running recently I would be very surprised if some of these fish did not find their way to Horton. Neil also tells me that the hatchery is settling in well and he plans to try out a few of the School fry in the tank in the next few weeks. We need to sort out a predator cover for the tank and will talk about this again soon.
The pen is still sitting on her clutch of eggs so I'm hopeful that this time she will succeed in hatching them. The challenge then will be finding a way of protecting the cygnets and I think a small refuge floating on the water may be the best short term solution.
I'm a bit late with this posting this morning because I visited the Tarn after seeing to my livestock and got talking to Peter M. The good news is that conditions here today are much improved with high broken cloud, plenty of sun and a stiffish westerly breeze.
A quick check of the Tarn water shows it to be in excellent condition for June with pH just above 8, temperature around 12c and an ORP reading of -42. There have been few blank visits over the past week which contrasts sharply with this time last year when the water temperature was so high that fish had ceased to feed and most visits produced very little success.
The river looks in good shape this morning with plenty of clear water on the runs and riffles. Again this is in contrast to last year when by this time the river was unfishable. Since the forecast is for more rain up to the weekend these conditions should last well into next week.
The unrelenting wet weather continues this morning after a slight respite yesterday. As I write this it's raining hard and looks pretty threatening from the west where the wind is blowing from. Not a great day for fishing and little prospect that it will improve much until after the weekend. Still, the river looks to be in fine form and in stark contrast to how it looked this time last year when it was down on its bones and barely running. All the works that have been done at the hatchery, Cam Beck and Turn Dub are getting a thorough testing rather earlier than I anticipated, but at least the tanks and channel at the hatchery are getting a thorough scouring which may speed up the programme to introduce stock a bit. I must have a chat to Neil H before the end of the week. Other tasks keep pushing this down the list of priorities.
Apart from that things are pretty quiet here in the valley and on the fishery. I'm off to Lancaster University this morning to talk to their IT network specialists about our wireless broadband network here at Horton to see if they have the expertise to help us improve and develop the network. It will keep me out of the rain.
Let's start with conditions here this morning which are much more benign than yesterday. We seem to have escaped relatively lightly compared to South Yorkshire. A lot of rain fell in the morning, but by mid day it had mostly given over and we were left with a strong north wind. Even that has diminished now and we are left with a bright start with a light north west breeze and high, broken cloud. The river has fallen off the flood so conditions for fishing are not too bad.
For some time now we have been talking about drawing up a definitive map of the fishery showing all the named features and access points so that when a beat is referred to everyone knows where this is. I have scanned in a large scale OS map and enlarged it to a size which will allow pools and other features to be identified and labelled. What I intend to do is to put a copy of this map in the hut marked up with my understanding of the names we use for pools etc. I would invite all members to annotate this map with their own names for the features so that in time we arrive at a comprehensive guide with all the various names currently in use. We can then publish a final version marked up with the most commonly used names and their various alternatives.
This should make life a lot easier for new members who want to explore the full potential of this extensive fishery. Long time members might find it useful also as we all seem to have our own names depending on whether we use club names or those used by locals.
What the hell happened to the summer? It's blowing hard here this morning, its raining and its cold. Not a day to be doing much outdoors. I will just have to summon up the enthusiasm for some desk work that I keep putting off.
Rather than me rabbit on this morning I thought that you might find interest in an email I got yesterday from Gavin P.
At last I had a couple of hours spare on Saturday morning so on my way home from Leyburn I came down over ribbleshead and whilst eager to fish the river I did need to be back home by 2pm so took the opportunity to fish the tarn.
The main reason for this email is that I had left my key for the lodge at home and couldn't file a catch report but the fishing was very good with large fish in evidence all around the tarn with plenty of terrestrial insects being blown onto the water with the breeze.
I was into my first fish on the first cast after creeping around to the far wall side and beating the swan of that appeared to take a dislike to me even though I was at the far side of the lake. I have attached a picture of this fish around 22/24″ long but a little lean.
Second fish was taken from around the other side near the trees and it took me by surprise as it leapt clear of the water by what appeared to be 3ft and the continued to strip the full line and a great length of backing as it headed for the far side, which appeared to be the only thing that stopped it. After what felt like 10 minuets I had managed to recover the start of my fly line as this fish must have scoured the bottom of the lake until it surfaced about 20ft out from the bank covered in weed. At this point and a very aching arm I realised that I had hooked a very large brownie with what only could be described as having a tail like a spade. I eventually got the fish nearer to the bank but as I reached for my camera to take its picture the hook hold gave and the fish circled and headed for the deep. This was an incredibly powerful fish and the best brownie that I have seen for a long time.
My only regret is that I could not get a picture of this specimen for you and can only guess at what its length and girth was but its still there and no doubt will appear again at some point.
To end I finished with a couple more rainbow similar to the picture all within around 6 cast only as I was mindful of the limit and only fished for what appeared to be bigger fish. These fish all went for a Goddard's style Deer hare sedge all within seconds of the fly hitting the water after a rise. I was surprised by the pleasure I did get from fishing the tarn as I don't really have a great deal of interest in still water fishing but I am looking forward to further visits and avoiding that swan which I think I should make the efforts and perhaps feed this bird to get in its good books.
I did stop at Helwith Bridge on my way home and a note of interest there where 2 very large fish moving up the river I thought they might be early salmon but could have been sea trout both looked around 4lb in weight.
Of course, I will file Gavin's return in the register later today as I have done for many members, but the real interest here lies in the account of the giant brownie that has been seen before in the Tarn and the possible presence of sea trout at Helwith Bridge. As I said yesterday, it would be worthwhile trying to build up a record of sea trout sightings so that we can monitor their presence and whether the population is growing, declining or is stable.
There's not much to report this morning other than that we had a lot of rain in the night so the river remains high. It's stopped raining now and is still and overcast with a lot of midges desperately seeking breakfast. The forecast is for showers so river fishing should remain good for most of this week.
It's our annual Goat Gathering today over in Chapel le Dale so I may not get the chance for the usual Sunday perambulation round the Tarn. This event often clashes with the Broughton Game Show and it's a always a hard choice as to which to go to. Since Broughton has been cancelled this year the choice is somewhat easier so we will be able to see how the Old English breed has fared over this breeding season.
My problem has always been finding a suitable pedigree male and stopping one of my girls from aborting, but now that we have a young stud male in Chapel le Dale I may at last be able to get the other brown horror in kid this year.
With all this recent rain and the river in such good condition it will be interesting to see whether the sea trout are running up to Horton. If any member has deliberately fished for sea trout or thinks that they may have hooked one recently do let me know how many and where they were caught. There is some anecdotal evidence that these fish are increasing in population in the river and it would be helpful to get a better fix on this so that we can plan their conservation a little more systematically.
The main news this morning is that the Broughton Game Fair that was due to take place tomorrow has been cancelled . I know that some members were planning to travel to Skipton to attend this so my advice is to have a lie in tomorrow as the event has fallen victim to the wet weather we have had this week and the show ground is waterlogged. This is a pity as the fair is always a good day out and a chance to see some fine country sports as well as contribute to a worthy cause in the Cave Rescue Group. I have done a lot of caving in the past and whilst you always ensured that your group was, wherever possible, capable of self rescue it was reassuring to know that if an accident did happen then the CRO would do their damnedest to get you out. The absence to the fair this year will put a severe strain on their finances.
There's better news from Cam Beck where a couple of hours yesterday saw the water gate virtually complete with only the steel mesh gate itself to hang now to finish the job. There was much evidence of the recent flood here with very large grass tussocks hung up on the bottom rail of the fence. But so far the whole edifice seems to have survived well with no evidence of loosening of any of the posts. We will just have to wait and see how it stands up to a real winter spate.
The weather here this morning is grey and gloomy with very low cloud and a freshening westerly breeze. Rain is forecast for later and it looks set to be wet on Sunday and Monday so we should have a fishable river well into next week.
I plan to ring Neil Handy later today to talk about what he wants to happen next with the hatchery site now that Philip has finished the main structural work. There's a bit of general gardening needed to tidy things up a bit and to stop soil from running into the two tanks and it might be sensible to strim down the grass around the tanks but I think the aim here should be to allow it to become as natural as is consistent with encouraging invertebrates and so on without providing too much cover for herons and other predators. Let's see what Neil has in mind.
I has been said that as we get older we get wiser. It would seem that this is not necessarily a universal idiom as events yesterday morning seem to prove. Regular readers will recall that one of the crowning highlights of the Great Horton Duck Race 2007 was the sight of the Venerable Member performing a balletic pirouette and taking an early bath. I came across the Venerable Member early yesterday morning up in the lay-by at Tarn Pasture in the process of dressing. My curiosity aroused, I asked him why he had driven from Wigan in his underpants. His response was that he had just been fishing on the river and had managed to catch his fly in the hawthorns along by the football field. In attempting to retrieve his prize he had misjudged the depth of the water and managed a near virtual repeat of his performance on Gala day.
Some never learn!
I had a good tidy up in the hut and boathouse yesterday so it's now possible to get out of the boat without scrambling round the obstacle course of the bins and other detritus that seems to have collected on the boathouse landing stage. I have also shortened the anchor rope and taken out the twists so it less resembles a rats nest in the bottom of the boat. There is now a large dustbin in the hut which should be used for all non-perishable rubbish. As I am often reminded, the MAA is a Gentleman's Club and its premises should reflect that fact not give the impression of the aftermath of a hurricane in a refugee camp.
We had a lot of rain again last night so the river is still in cracking form bolstered by the weather which is warm and sunny with white, fluffy cloud and just a whisper of a breeze.
I'm off later to do a bit more to the water gate at Cam Beck. I recon that another couple of days work here will see the finish of the project.
I have now posted up 4 pictures of the hatchery site as it looks this week. Find them in the “hatchery” folder.